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How Covid has affected Perthshire’s LGBT+ community after successful first Pride march

Perthshire Pride
Perthshire Pride March, 2019, with Sir Ian McKellen in attendance. Picture: Steve MacDougall.

The Covid pandemic hit Perth and Kinross’ LGBT+ community “like a brick wall” after Perthshire Pride began gaining momentum.

Perthshire Pride’s first ever parade went ahead in summer 2019 as over 1,000 people joined Sir Ian McKellen to support the event.

The same year saw the formation of Perth Parrots Floorball Club, the city’s first LGBT+ sports team.

Perth Parrots
Perth Parrots, the city’s first LGBT+ sports team. Picture: Gareth Jennings.

And as the area’s LGBT+ community began coming together more often, there was a “growing confidence” among its members.

But the pandemic halted Perthshire Pride’s momentum, causing concern over how it would impact on the LGBT+ community amid a lack of meetings and events.

Now, however, plans are being made to bounce back from the pandemic.

It’s a plan which aims to start with small get-togethers but includes the idea of a pride march making a return.

Tough lockdown

Perthshire Pride says lockdown periods were tough for many in the LGBT+ community, particularly those who may not have come out to others in their households.

Co-chair of Perthshire Pride Claire MacKenzie said: “Covid was like hitting a brick wall.

“When Covid struck, it was a bit of a dip in our momentum.

“There was an atmosphere and an attitude that Pride was making a difference, and the LGBT community was growing in confidence.

Perthshire Pride
Sir Ian McKellen chats to Claire Mackenzie of Perthshire Pride. Picture: Steve MacDougall.

“We feed off each other’s energy and being able to meet up in person is a big thing.

“And being unable to meet up in person was difficult.”

She added: “People might still be living in the closet at home and being able to meet like-minded people was an escape for them.

“So being on lockdown was a concern if people were in unsafe situations.

“It’s a concern about their general wellbeing.”

Perth’s first LGBT+ sports team

The creation of Perth Parrots was a significant step forward for Perth and Kinross’ LGBT+ community.

When Frazer Robertson moved to Perth in 2019, he decided he wanted to join a LGBT+ sports team – only to discover there wasn’t one.

So he decided to set one up. He and his team decided to create a floorball team where people of all genders could play together.

Perth Parrots
Frazer Robertson of Perth Parrots. Picture: Steve MacDougall.

Floorball is similar in style to ice hockey but without ice or skates and uses a ball instead of a puck.

But just as the team was getting off the ground, the pandemic began.

Frazer said: “Sadly, Perth Parrots was starting to get going when Covid hit.

“Often you find particularly in an LGBT community people will run or swim as that’s an individual thing.

“There’s huge benefits to having a sports team – we have banter but we support each other. And Covid meant we couldn’t meet.

Perth Parrots
Perth Parrots during training. Picture: Gareth Jennings.

“That’s had a detrimental effect on us and, for me, it was a concern.

“My worry was that when we started afresh, we would have less members.

“But it has done the opposite.

Perth Parrots
Perth Parrots. Picture: Gareth Jennings.

“What we didn’t have the benefit of is being established.

“I think we have done quite well despite Covid because people want to come together with like-minded people.

“I am trying my best to make sure that we have something that’s not just a one-off event.

“When I am with the Parrots, I am able to just be myself.”

What’s next for Perthshire Pride?

But despite the challenges brought on by Covid, Perthshire Pride is determined to maintain its momentum.

In July last year, it held scaled down events and it plans to keep meeting.

Claire said: “We are being optimistic – we are looking to book a date in August to be able to just get an event going.

Perthshire Pride
Perthshire Pride hopes to hold more events again soon. Picture: Steve MacDougall.

“We are hoping to hold small meet up events to fill that gap as soon as we possibly can. Even just going to a coffee shop or a pub.

“We are trying to get more people on the board to get some newer perspectives.

“We would encourage anyone who wants to get involved to get in touch and they will be welcomed with open arms.

“If all goes well, we are hoping to have a big event with stages and a march.”

Anyone who wishes to get involved in Perthshire Pride can get in touch with them on their website.

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